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Discussion Starter #1
Prior to today, i thought the lowest note a clarinet could play was C7. I never bothered to look further, because when I play that, my pets cry.

Today, I found this fingering chart. http://www.wfg.woodwind.org/clarinet/cl_alt_4.html
It has fingerings for up to Bb7 :? . My first questions was why, but my second question was is it even possible.
So, in order of importance:
  • 1. Are these insanely high notes possible, and if so, can I as a high school clarinetist reach above C7?
  • 2. If it is, are these fingerings accurate, and any recommendations on specific fingerings.
  • 3. Are there any uses besides torture for these high notes, and if they are when?
  • 4. Totally unrelated, but does it matter my setup to play these notes. Right now I'm on a Buffet E-12, Selmer C* mouthpiece, and Vandoren v56 Reeds with a strength of 3.

Thanks in advance,
Ryan K
 

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I can't hit consistently past the an octave above :line6:, but what is generally considered the upper limit of the clarinet is two octaves above :space3:, although many players can play higher, and some composers write higher when they know that the performer can play those notes.

Since I can't really hit these notes, all I can pass on is what my teacher tells me whenever I try: Keep the tongue arched high (very high), the body relaxed, the airstream strong and steady and don't bite. I haven't been able to get those to add up to double-high C yet, though.:cool:
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Ya, double C is my current limit. I think I'll give it a go.

Edit:
After much experimentation, my new upper limit is now a C#7. One Half step higher.
 

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Listen to "Nightmare"an Artie Shaw classic tune. Toward the end of that tune he is playing B 1 octive above what I used to call high B. The song is properly named.

Bill
 

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While the likes of Shaw experimented with technique way up there, the practical view of clarinet playing is that the "most musical" portion of the horn's range lies from the E below the staff to the G above high C. Once in a while in non-classical music you will have occasion to go to a high A, but if you are just doubling clarinet as a sax player and not playing the solo lines, this will be rare indeed.

That's not to say that you can't "find a reason" to play the high altissimo notes like C above high C and so on. With enough practice and experimentation with fingerings, many players have done so. But, it's more in the way of a parlor trick than it is "music".

Nightmare is a tune that only a clarinet player can love. The entire chart is devoted to a backdrop behind the clarinet solo, and without someone capable of channeling Artie, it's just not worth the trouble.
 

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The 1st clarinet part in the Cecile Chaminade Concertino for Flute and Orchestra runs up to a high G#. Thats as high as I've seen so far for legit clarinet orchestral playing. Everything below that note is pretty standard range and should be as fluent as any other note on the instrument.
 

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I'm looking at the part now and I just noticed on the 4th last bar there's a optional high A#.
 

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Solo is a different set of requirements.

Most clarinet work is section playing. I'd bet most section players have at least a high A in their arsenal, if not higher. I do, but I've never been called on to play higher than G#.
 

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Oh sorry, I read throught too fast, you were talking about orchestral playing.
 

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Well, I was, anyway. But the standard range seems to end with G.
 

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So in a sort of related question, should I practice my "full range" scales up to the F# or G (depending on the scale) an octave above :space5: ?
 

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Well, it depends on what you do.

For most players, I would say "no", since (as noted above) anything above a high A is uncommon in most music. If you spend most of your time on sax in the first place, and do little but fill in section work when you are on clarinet, you just won't be seen those impossibly high tones.

If you find yourself playing the likes of Nightmare (and it does occasionally get called when playing for the old crowd), or if you plan to play a lot of legit (classical for the most part only) music, then by all means take the trouble to master it. Much like sudoku, being able to run up and down at the extreme range of the instrument is an accomplishment in and of itself.

Besides, then you can work at doing the same thing on the bass clarinet...
 

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This quarter in my university orchestra, we're playing Lou Harrison's Elegiac Symphony. There are three clarinet parts, and at the beginning (third or fourth bar) of the fourth movement ("Praises for Michael the Archangel"), we have to, in unison, hit a fortissimo A# (up an octave and a half step from :line6:), then go the half step down to the A, then play an angular line, all in and out of the upper clarion and altissimo. Fun!
 
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